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As a pet parent, there are signs you can lookout for when it comes to detecting cancer:

They include, but are not limited to:

  • Swollen lymph nodes: Located throughout the body, they are easily located behind the jaw or the knee.
  • An enlarging or changing lump:  Any lump on a pet that is rapidly changing or growing should be biopsied.
  • Abdominal distension: If the belly becomes quickly enlarged, this could suggest a tumor. A quick ultrasound can detect the problem.
  • Unexplained bleeding: Bleeding that is not due to trauma should definitely be examined.
  • Lameness: Unexplained lameness, especially in large dogs, is a common sign of bone cancer, and a radiograph can determine if there’s something wrong.
  • Straining to urinate: Straining to urinate or blood in the urine can indicate a urinary tract infection, but if it’s not controlled with antibiotics, a biopsy of the bladder may be needed.

Eyes: Are the whites of the eyes white; are they sagging; do they look healthy; is there goop in them?

  • Teeth: Are the gums nice and pink? Do they have plaque or tarter?
  • Ears: Do they look normal for the breed; are they red or swollen; do they contain a funky odor; are they compacted with hair; is the ear housing anything that shouldn’t be there?
  • Nose: Is the nose dry, cracked or brittle looking?
  • Skin/coat: Does the fur look shiny and healthy, or is it dull; is the skin healthy or oily? Based on the animal’s age, are there cuts or abrasions; have they been scratching or itching; are there any abnormal lumps or are they aging spots?
  • Underside: Does the belly look and feel good? Are there any lumps, bumps?
  • Paws: Are the nails cracked, dry or brittle? Are the pads moist, red or swollen?

If your pet has any of these early warning signs, you should take him or her to your veterinarian as soon as possible for a more complete examination. In addition, you should keep your pet away from environmental toxins like lawn fertilizers and surface and rug cleaners that have warning labels relative to children and pets. Many veterinarians see a link between environmental toxins and cancer.